I wonder if I hadn't set out on this dream of crossing oceans, learning to sail, buying a yacht, exploring the islands of the Caribbean, would I be in this waiting room at Preston Royal hospital at 7.30am on Wednesday 23rd of November. Perhaps not, perhaps I would have opted for the radio therapy, a rather less painful, less radical way of dealing with my cancerous prostate gland. I may even have gone for the watchful waiting option of doing nothing. After all it may not develop into a life threatening problem at all, that's how it is with this disease. But these alternatives would mean having very regular tests to keep an eye on its progress. The idea of going cruising and having this Damocles hammer hanging over our voyaging in the end swung the decision.
So there I am at 8am with my NHS backless smock and dressing gown being escorted to the theatre clutching a pillow I've been given to carry. I'm reminded of Ford Prefect in Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy who has to have a trusty towel with him prior to his excursions in hyperdrive. I don't think to ask why I'm carrying this pillow, but sheepishly follow directions as we trek the maze of corridors to finally be ushered into theatre 7, and the pre op room. Lucky 7 says my escort, but I'm not at all feeling lucky, I'm feeling distinctly nervous.
Carolyn is the antithesis and Jo her assistant, who exchange a sort of calming banter with me as I'm wired and pricked and readied for the reason I made it to here, next is oblivion until I come round in a bed on ward 15.
Jackie appears with a massive smile and a big hug, its about 3pm and my operation has been and gone. the surgeon pays a brief visit, tells me my prostate weighed 100g and is gone. Funnily enough I'm not in any pain but this tube stuck up my willie does feel decidedly odd. My only inclination of the op is a feeling in my midriff of perhaps being kicked, sort of tender but not what you'ld call painful.
Jackie stays around until eight and we even manage a couple of games of backgammon then it's chucking out time and Jackie goes off to find a hotel for the night, and I settle in to hospital banter with the other inmates and the sights and sounds of ward 15. Next day I expect to be going home, but it doesn't quite go that way, I have to stay an extra night. Something to do with the amount of stuff in my drain bag. A bit of a disappointment but on Friday afternoon I'm out and on my way home.
I've been home now for a couple of days and apart from the inconvenience of having this catheter to deal with, which I've got for another ten days I'm feeling ok. It was not a very pleasant experience but by all accounts it should be a cure and that was what I wanted. The prospect of our high seas adventure without the threat of cancer hanging in the air will have made this trial more than worthwhile, although I'll have to wait about three months to get he all clear, but by all accounts it should be all behind us now.
As all this has been going on so has the ARC which has just set off from the Canaries on route for St Lucia and we've been tuning in to check their progress. We said three years ago that we would love to do this trip, before we knew how to sail, and after going through this last week trial we're starting to think seriously about entering for next year 2012. I have a feeling that we may have a plan coming together here.